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Schumacher X The Fabled Thread

Behind The Collaboration

Maximus and Moka, from The Fabled Thread X Schumacher collection
Ziggurat and Zulma, from The Fabled Thread X Schumacher collection

Last summer, Schumacher approached me to create a small collection of needlepoint kits inspired by their extensive and extraordinary range of fabrics and patterns. Anyone who knows me understands my passion for color and pattern, making this collaboration a dream come true. Initially, I explored various design concepts, from rag rugs to Americana and samplers, but we ultimately decided on the theme of patterned still life. My goal was to create designs that would look stunning both as cushions and framed pieces, while embodying the vibrant colors and intricate patterns that are the hallmarks of Schumacher and The Fabled Thread. Rather than just show you the final output of the collaboration, in this article I'll explore inspiration for the designs and the iterations I went through to reach the final designs.

The Inspiration

Sources of inspiration for the collaboration. Clockwise from top left: Sophy Regensburg, Paul Aizpiri, Matisse, Gordon Hopkins, Matisse, Mary Fedden, Hepzibah Swinford

I've long been captivated by the work of Henri Matisse (I rhapsodized over his cut-outs in this article). Just as this collaboration began, I returned from Nice, where I visited the Matisse Museum—it felt like the stars had aligned. However, given Schumacher's strong American heritage, I also drew inspiration from artist Sophy Pollack Regensberg. I discovered her work after many hours spent in the American Folk Art Museum online archives (if you haven't done this before, set aside some time—you'll be incredibly inspired). Her work carries the naivety of Matisse, but with a simplicity of arrangement and pattern that allows the objects and patterns to sing.

Paintings by Sophy P Regensburg (1885 - 1974)

The final source of inspiration came from Schumacher's own collection. With over 2,000 fabric patterns, their archives are truly remarkable. After countless hours exploring their website, we narrowed down the selection to fabrics with bold yet simple patterns. These fabrics needed to complement a still life without overwhelming it and could be integrated into a small area of the design while maintaining their distinct identity. It was no easy feat!

A selection of some of the fabrics from Schumachers collection which we narrowed down to use within the kits

The Initial Concept

Drawing from these diverse sources of inspiration, my initial design mock-ups featured heavily patterned backgrounds paired with a single still life object in a simple, contrasting color palette. The idea was to embroider directly onto the patterned fabrics.

Initial mock ups for the designs

However, during testing, the designs didn't feel right. There were numerous issues: too much pattern, insufficient incorporation of Schumacher designs, and a lack of durability for long-term use (embroidery is just too fragile to withstand decades of use). Most importantly, I didn't love the designs as I should. Additionally, while this method of embroidery kit is not uncommon in the UK, it is quite rare in the US, so we aimed to create something more universal. Tapestry canvases are a common form of stitching all over the world, so quite early on we decided to switch from embroidery to needlepoint

Initial design tests working instead in embroidery onto patterned fabric, before we settled on creating needlepoint designs instead

It's hard changing course in any creative endeavour - when you have an idea you think will work, coming to terms with the fact it isn't working out as you expected is challenging. Taking the decision to scrap a design route and switch to something new is scary but always so worth it. The moment we made that change, the designs began to click.

A Vessel for Pattern

The beauty of a still life is that it serves as the perfect canvas for patterns. However, I wanted to ensure we had enough objects and surfaces to showcase several Schumacher patterns—this collaboration is, after all, a celebration of their designs! I began with drawings and illustrations that incorporated two vessels, two flowers, and the naive charm of Matisse.

Whilst I would love to see every single one of those drawings as a still life, we had to narrow it down to a couple of designs to get started. So we chose two favourites, alongside some of my favourites of the patterns (Maximus in red and pink is a bit of me in a fabric!), and the designs started coming to life. The images below show how I incorporated the patterns into the line drawings to create our pieces.

The Final Kits

So here they are, nearly 12 months work, our Schumacher X The Fabled Thread collaboration kits are here! Needlepoint kits are suitable for beginners and experienced stitchers alike. Unlike regular tapestry kits we have in the UK, for these kits I have combined two needlepoint stitches - tent stitch and brick stick. The designs are worked on smaller canvas grid than usual to enable us to capture the detail of the patterns (14 holes per inch for those in the know), so by using brick stitch in the background not only do you get a nice contrast of textures, but it also makes the stitching that bit quicker - for those of you who are a bit impatient like me!

These kits also include the finishing materials for you to make them into a cushion, with a vibrant piece of recycled wool backing fabric and our handmade cotton velvet piping. Whilst here I just show the designs as cushions, I believe they would be magnificent framed (watch this space... I'll definitely work on getting one into a frame to show you).


Maximus and Moka

Ziggurat and Zulma

Ziggurat and Zulma


My gratitude to the Schumacher team for asking me to collaborate with them on this project, and the hugest thanks goes to Brogan, Victoria, Lucy and Rebecca who worked tirelessly with me to stitch up the full prototype cushions and did a magnificent job. It would be neigh on impossible to launch new ranges without our army of test stitchers supporting! I hope you love these as much as I do. If you are a brand and interested in collaborating with us, you can reach out to us at

The pair of cushions on my sofa at home